cover image And a Dog Called Fig: Solitude, Connection, the Writing Life

And a Dog Called Fig: Solitude, Connection, the Writing Life

Helen Humphreys. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-0-374-60388-5

In this tender tribute, novelist and essayist Humphreys (The Evening Chorus) explores the parallels between “the creative journey” and communing with one’s canine. After her beloved vizsla Charlotte’s death, Humphreys adopted another vizsla, Fig, named for her dark red fur, “the colour of a ripe Calimyrna fig.” Despite a rocky start (mainly due to the pup’s penchant for nipping), the two quickly settled into a loving relationship, one that came to nourish Humphreys’s craft. Intriguingly, she describes the process of writing as akin to that of caring for a puppy—from finding structure in daily strolls, to discovering the perfect setting (“I pay attention to the landscape in a very immediate way, as my dog does”), pacing, and ending. As she mixes her sparkling ruminations with stories of other famous writers who felt a similar kinship to their pooches—among them, Anton Chekov, Alice Walker, and Virginia Woolf (who believed “that dogs represented ‘the private side of life—the play side’ ”)—she gives equal veneration to the power of walking. “The dog walk is not to be underestimated as a source for creativity and life-giving energy,” she opines. “What crosses your path will always... lead you to discover new things.” Dog lovers will find this a treat. Agent: Clare Alexander, Aitken Alexander Assoc. (Mar.)